“You’re crazy, they told her” (Acts 12:15)
What do you believe is the greatest hinderance to our prayers being answered? The answer to that question is – us. You and I are the greatest hinderance to our prayers being answered. Why? Because we can say prayers with our lips, and those prayers can resonate in our mind, but at the same time we can doubt in our heart. Perhaps that’s because prayers are conceived in our mind first, then travel down to our mouth, but on the way forget to incorporate faith into them.
A great example of this is what occurred in Acts chapter 12. The Apostle Peter was sitting in prison in Jerusalem. He was not there waiting for his lawyer to show up or make bail. No, Peter was in prison, bound with chains and surrounded by guards, waiting to go before Herod the next day for trial. That trial would most likely end in an order for his execution. Quite a dilemma for Peter and the early church. So, the believers in Jerusalem gathered to pray for Peter. There was nothing else that they could do to help him. And guess what? God answered their prayers and sent an angel who released Peter.
But that’s not the end of the story. Once free, Peter went straight to the house of Mary the mother of John. That house was where everyone had gathered to pray for Peter’s release. Their answer to pray was standing on the other side of the door as they were interceding. So, Peter knocked on the door, I’m sure anxious to reveal to everyone the answer to their prayers. The praying church sent a servant girl named Rhoda to open the door. She was so excited at the sight of Peter, that she left Pete standing there and ran back into the house shouting, “Peter is at the door!” Now, at that point you would think everyone would jump up and run to the door to welcome Peter. But not this group of praying believers. They told Rhoda, “You’re out of your mind!” Even when they finally did open the door to Peter’s persistent knocking, the bible says they “were astonished.” Those inside Mary’s house knew the right thing to do was pray. They knew how to pray. They most likely prayed eloquent prayers. But they left one thing out of their prayers – faith. It’s kind of like trying to turn a light on when you haven’t plugged it in first.
Have you ever asked God to do something, and then when he does, you find yourself surprised? If we’re going to ask God to do something, we desperately need to believe in our hearts that he will do it. That’s why Jesus said in Mark 11:24 – “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” He didn’t say “believe that you will receive it.” Jesus said, “believe that you have received it.” That it’s a done deal before you hear or see the answer. So next time you’re praying, and you find your mind filled with the request you want to make, as well as your mouth filling up with the words to say; just stop a moment and search your heart. Is there enough faith in there to believe that God is going to answer that prayer?